Appellate Advocacy

MSL’s Appellate Moot Court Team Brings Home Three Major Awards from the Prestigious Charleston School of Law National Moot Court Competition

Two teams from the Massachusetts School of Law (MSLAW) competed in the 2012 American Charleston School of Law National Moot Court Competition in February 2012. Once again, the MSLAW competitors faced talent from some of the best law school in the country, including the University of North Carolina, William & Mary, Florida State and DePaul. MSLAW’s two teams were: Casey Powers/Marissa Hederson and Christine Brigham/Matthew Bingham.

Preparing four teams to compete in such a demanding appellate tournament requires a considerable commitment from faculty as well as students. Coaches Peter Malaguti, Connie Rudnick, Andy Starkis and Kurt Olson gratefully accepted substantial and thoughtful assistance from alumni coaches Ben Simanski and Kathleen (Mulligan) Simanski. Additionally, Adjunct Professor and Massachusetts Appeals Court Judge Peter Agnes conducted a lengthy and incisive practice session that the competitors found extremely helpful.

The competition began on Friday, February 4 with two rounds of oral arguments by each team. The competition continued on Saturday, February 5 with the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. The team of Matt Bingham and Christine Brigham advanced to the quarterfinals on Saturday, along with teams from William and Mary, DePaul, Mercer University School of Law, and Florida Coastal School of Law. Christine and Matt defeated Mercer (last year’s competition winner) in the quarterfinals. At the semifinals later on Saturday, Matt and Christine lost the opportunity to reach the finals in an extremely close match against Florida Coastal (the judges announced that the competition was very close and they had difficulty in picking a winner).

In the end, MSLAW brought back two major awards from the Charleston National Competition. Not only did Matt and Christine win an award as a semifinalist; they also won the Best Brief for the Petitioners Award. Although Marissa and Casey failed to qualify for the quarterfinals, the MSLAW judges agreed that their advocacy and brief were both of a quality deserving award recognition; choosing among excellent moot court teams is quite difficult and reasonable minds can differ in close calls.

Both of MSLAW’s teams devoted scores of hours researching, writing briefs and practicing their oral arguments (including late nights, Saturdays and Sundays). Although technically divided into separate teams for the purpose of competition, both the coaches and student competitors considered themselves to be a cohesive unit working toward the common goal of ensuring that each participant would reach his or her potential. All four of the MSLAW student advocates received glowing praise from the judges who scored the competitions and provided personal feedback.

MSLAW’s five-year participation in the ACS Moot Court competition is marked by remarkable success, especially considering the roll of law schools it has competed against: Columbia, Harvard, Stanford, Berkeley, William and Mary, NYU, Michigan, BC, Florida State, BU, and the University of North Carolina, and more. Here is the list of awards MSLAW’s Moot Court Team has achieved in its five years of competition:

2008 American Constitutional Society National Moot Court Competition, East Region, Washington, D.C.
Kathleen Mulligan and Tania Palumbo won the Best Brief Award (Their score was highest in the country, surpassing a Michigan team that won Best Brief in the west.)

2009 American Constitutional Society National Moot Court Competition, East Region, Washington, D.C.
Ben Simanski and Tania Palumbo wrote the 5th-best brief in the Eastern Regional competition.

2010 American Constitutional Society National Moot Court Competition, West Region ,Palo Alto, CA
Paul Stewart won the Best Oral Advocate Award.

2011 American Constitutional Society National Moot Court Competition, East Region, Boston, MA
Dan Thompson and Casey powers advanced to the quarterfinals.
Dan Thompson and Casey Powers won the Best Brief Award for Petitioners.
Paul Stewart and Laurie Lemieux won the Best Brief Award for Respondents.

2012 Charleston School of Law National Moot Court Competition,
Charleston, SC
Christine Brigham and Matt Bingham advanced to the semifinals.
Christine Brigham and Matt Bingham won the Best Brief Award for Petitioners.

In the four years that MSLAW  competed in the American Constitution Society’s National Moot Court Competition, no law school won more Best Brief Awards; the only other law school in the country to equal MSLAW’s three Best Brief awards was the Michigan Law School.

The overall result of MSLAW’s participation in national moot court competitions is impressive. In just five years, its teams have brought home four Best Brief awards, a Best Oral Advocate award, participation in a quarterfinal, and participation in a semifinal.

Great trial lawyers, great appellate lawyers: it’s the MSLAW way!


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